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Murder: The Biography by Kate Morgan

November 30, 2020

A captivating, unique and completely gripping account of the law of murder in the UK

Brilliant, gruesome and fascinating, Murder: The Biography explores how the law of murder in the UK has changed over the decades and centuries. How did we get from Edward the Confessor’s edict that murder – or rather ‘murdrum’ – should be a crime in English law in the eleventh century to the definition of homicide in the twenty-first century, which covers a multitude of scenarios including manslaughter, corporate manslaughter, death by dangerous driving and questions of insanity and diminished responsibility?

Lawyer and writer Kate Morgan is our guide on this dark and macabre journey as she unpicks and recounts the stories that have contributed to UK homicide law today – from the big corporate killer to the unknown, motley cast of vengeful spouses, sloppy doctors, abused partners and shoddy employers who have also contributed to its standing. Alongside defendants like Ruth Ellis (the last woman to be hanged in the UK), and the companies facing prosecution for corporate manslaughter in the courts today, we’ll learn of the likes of Richard Parker, the cannibalized cabin boy whose death led the Victorian courts to outlaw the defence of necessity to murder; the strange story of Daniel M’Naghten and the ‘M’Naghten Rules’, which we still employ to define the criminally insane in law courts today; of how the law of provocation dates back to drunken brawl in the Tower of London in the early eighteenth century; and of Dr Percy Bateman, the incompetent GP whose actions changed the law on manslaughter.

Totally gripping and brilliantly told, this wonderful book is a gruesome and macabre portrait of the history and meaning of our modern law of murder.

29th April 2021 | HB | £16.99 | 9780008407339

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